Your employees and customers are intimately linked; what one does, affects the other. Rude, aggressive customers will cause distress for employees, and disengaged and unhappy employees will fail to provide a good customer experience. To understand just how unhappy employees affect customer experience, let’s just jump straight to the research and let the facts do the talking.
To begin, it seems logical that the happier and more engaged employees are, the more effort such employees would put into their roles than those less engaged and happy. In one study by Watson Wyatt, they found that highly engaged employees were twice as likely to be top performers.
Less engaged employees though are also at risk of leaving a company, with 53% stating in a survey by Glassdoor they would stay longer with their current employer if they felt more appreciation from those above them.
Retaining employees is critical for morale, as continual turnover of employees affects the happiness of those employees who remain. It affects company profits (cost of training new employees) and the experience for the customer, as employees at risk of leaving will fail to perform their job to a high standard.
7 out of 10 consumers will spend more money with good customer experience customers
In the world of the customer and the effect of employee happiness, one study found that 92% of consumers reported that an employee’s perceived happiness had a direct impact on their customer experience with the brand. Another study by The Annual American Express Global Customer Service Barometer found that 7 out of 10 consumers will spend more money with a company that provides top quality customer experience.
Financially this has a significant impact. Standard Chartered Bank found that their branches that had a substantial increase in employee engagement had a 16% higher profit margin than their less engaged brethren. Watermark Consulting decided to go one step further and study the impact of customer experience on share price. They compared one portfolio of stocks in leading customer experience companies against another portfolio of customer experience laggards. Although there was a small market average rise of 14.5%, the laggards still fell by 33.9% while the customer experience leaders were up by 43% at the end of the five years.
The facts above clearly show how unhappy employees create unhappy customers, and unhappy customers affect the revenue of companies. Engaged motivated employees will perform their job closer to best practices, create a happier workplace as negativity breeds negativity and remain with a company longer. Happy, engaged employees mean better customer experience.
Statistical top-down improvements
Creating engaged happy employees though is not a new phenomenon. As well as measuring employee satisfaction through periodic surveys, employee surveys test for happiness along a variety of dimensions with experts aggregating data to establish critical factors of satisfaction and recommendations for improvement.
These top-down statistical improvements though remove employees from the equation of finding resolutions to workplace problems. Not being present in the creation of directives, a lack of ownership is felt by employees and directives are either not implemented or are perceived to have little capacity to improve employee problems.
The employee Net Promoter System (eNPS) is an employee survey approach that focuses on finding practical solutions to improve employee happiness at an individual and company-wide level. Surveys are carried out using the simple Net Promoter® question “how likely are you to recommend”, followed by a few additional questions that investigate reasons behind one’s likelihood to recommend or not.
Upon completion survey responses, though confidential, can be discussed with employees as a whole to identify and find resolutions to relevant issues so as to create a happier, more engaging work environment for employees. Think of your employees just like your customers. They aren’t indefinitely loyal but by investigating in real-time how likely they are to recommend the company they work for, nuanced solutions can be found to improve upon this loyalty.
Think of your employees just like your customers. They aren’t indefinitely loyal but by investigating in real-time how likely they are to recommend the company they work for, nuanced solutions can be found to improve upon this loyalty.
53% would stay longer with their current employer if they felt more appreciation
Real-time direct action
Although there are proven effective measures to promote happiness and engagement such as autonomy, trust, transparency, recognition, communication, etc. Employee feedback that allows identification in real-time of specific issues causing unhappiness means transcending blanket directives by providing practical and individual solutions to employee problems. The difference is that the shortness and directness of questioning give frontline managers the ability to “close the loop” (not individually for surveys are confidential) by directly discussing with employees the issues at hand. Additionally, the short and precise survey means immediately actionable insights are possible, as the results do not require a long, complicated process of analysis.
One well-executed and best-in-class example its use by Apple within its stores. After each eNPS survey round, store managers review the data and employees create focus groups to identify key issues and create solutions to be presented to store management. Problems and solutions are discussed and developed in real-time; solutions are not handed down from a central office but instead created by those who need them. And as the implementation of solutions is fast, managers and employees can already learn how effective their solutions were by the time the next eNPS survey comes around.
Branches that had an increase in employee engagement had a 16% higher profit margin
Company-wide measures can improve the happiness and engagement of employees, but many problems are context specific. Employees enjoy trust, autonomy, and recognition, but what creates engaged happy employees that wish to remain with a company and fulfill their position to the best of their ability is being part of the resolution process. Creating a dialogue between management and frontline employees means problems will be solved collaboratively and implemented closer to best-practice due to an ownership of the process.